8:00am Thursday 17th January 2013
By Jill Harding
WILTS & Dorset bus company has been accused of putting “profits before people” following its decision to sell off Amesbury bus station.
Town councillors have spoken out against the company’s plan to vacate the station this summer. And members of the Stonehenge Chamber of Trade have also expressed concerns, saying the bus station must be replaced with adequate bus stops to enable the same number of buses to stop in the town.
“This is nothing short of asset stripping by the bus company,” said cllr John Noeken. “Bringing buses to the centre of town is critical to the vitality of Amesbury.
“It appears that the bus company is putting profits before people – this is being done at the expense of the community, which will lose a valuable facility.
“One concern is what will happen to the bus station once the bus company moves out if they can’t find a buyer.
“It’s a large area and we don’t want the yobs all over it causing trouble if it’s left standing empty.”
It is likely the bus station will be replaced with roadside bus stops on the A345 at the edge of the town centre, which are currently grassy verges.
“Why should the centre of Amesbury have some of its greenness taken away?” asked cllr Richard Crook at a meeting of the town council last Tuesday.
“Are they going to destroy part of the town for new bus stops? We don’t know.”
But cllr Fred Westmoreland described the bus station as a “particularly ugly entrance to Amesbury”.
“If someone wanted to build a bus station there now, with all those problems with access, we would laugh in their faces – it’s in a ridiculous position,” he said.
“Maybe this could be an opportunity to have something better on the site to improve the town.” Andrew Wickham, managing director of Wilts & Dorset, said there are no plans to reduce services to and from Amesbury once the site is sold.
“We are working with Wiltshire Council and the local user group to consider convenient roadside locations for alternative bus stops within the town,” he said. “Our customers will be notified well in advance once final decisions have been made in time for our vacating of the unmanned bus station in the summer.”
Salisbury bus station will also be closed and sold off as part of the scheme, which Wilts & Dorset says will not result in job losses or cuts in services as buses will use existing stops.
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